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J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2015, 3(3), 1041-1065; doi:10.3390/jmse3031041

Coupled Wave Energy and Erosion Dynamics along a Salt Marsh Boundary, Hog Island Bay, Virginia, USA

1
Department of Earth and Environment, Boston University, 675 Commonwealth Ave Boston, MA 02215, USA
2
United States Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Coastal and Hydraulic Laboratory, 3909 Halls Ferry Road, Vicksburg, MI 39180, USA
3
Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, Louisiana State University, 1002-Q EC&E Building, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Charitha Pattiaratchi
Received: 1 July 2015 / Accepted: 9 September 2015 / Published: 15 September 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sediment Transport Modeling)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [6350 KB, uploaded 15 September 2015]   |  

Abstract

The relationship between lateral erosion of salt marshes and wind waves is studied in Hog Island Bay, Virginia USA, with high-resolution field measurements and aerial photographs. Marsh retreat is compared to wave climate calculated in the bay using the spectral wave-model Simulating Waves Nearshore (SWAN). We confirm the existence of a linear relationship between long-term salt marsh erosion and wave energy, and show that wave power can serve as a good proxy for average salt-marsh erosion rates. At each site, erosion rates are consistent across several temporal scales, ranging from months to decades, and are strongly related to wave power. On the contrary, erosion rates vary in space and weakly depend on the spatial distribution of wave energy. We ascribe this variability to spatial variations in geotechnical, biological, and morphological marsh attributes. Our detailed field measurements indicate that at a small spatial scale (tens of meters), a positive feedback between salt marsh geometry and wave action causes erosion rates to increase with boundary sinuosity. However, at the scale of the entire marsh boundary (hundreds of meters), this relationship is reversed: those sites that are more rapidly eroding have a marsh boundary which is significantly smoother than the marsh boundary of sheltered and slowly eroding marshes. View Full-Text
Keywords: salt-marsh erosion; wind-waves; wave modeling salt-marsh erosion; wind-waves; wave modeling
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Priestas, A.M.; Mariotti, G.; Leonardi, N.; Fagherazzi, S. Coupled Wave Energy and Erosion Dynamics along a Salt Marsh Boundary, Hog Island Bay, Virginia, USA. J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2015, 3, 1041-1065.

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